Volume 6 Issue 4 (2017)

Special and Inclusive Education in Tanzania: Reminiscing the Past, Building the Future

pp. 55-73  |  Published Online: December 2017  |  DOI: 10.22521/edupij.2017.64.4

Mwajabu K. Possi, Joseph R. Milinga


Special education was introduced in Tanzania Mainland in 1950 by the Church Missionary Society. Despite its long history in the country, not many policies have clearly stipulated the need for special and inclusive education. This paper succinctly and systematically evaluates various educational reforms and policies in Tanzania, and points out some successes and embedded challenges in the development of special needs and inclusive education in Tanzania. To analyze clearly the current situation of special and inclusive education in the country, the Peter’s model and cases of some identified schools for exceptional students are used. The analysis has indicated an evolution from special to integrated and later on to inclusive education, which has led to an apparent increase in the number of schools and subsequent relatively higher enrollment figures for children with special needs. Despite this evolution, Tanzania has a long way to go, when compared to other countries in effectively achieving the provision of education to exceptional individuals. Finally, towards a new era of special and inclusive education in Tanzania, various recommendations are offered.

Keywords: history, special and inclusive education, policies, reforms


Armstrong, F. (2002). The historical development of special education: humanitarian rationality or ‘wild profusion of entangled events’? History of Education, 31(5), 437-456.

Armstrong, F. (2007). Disability, education and social change in England since 1960. History of Education, 36(4-5), 551-568.

Bines, H., & Lei, P. (2011). Disability and education: the longest road to inclusion. International Journal of Educational Development, 31(5), 419-424.

Choma, V. (1985). Examination of aspects of educational provisions for visually handicapped children in Tanzania (Unpublished Master’s thesis). University of Birmingham.

Eleweke, C. J., & Rodda, M. (2002). The challenge of enhancing inclusive education in developing countries. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 6(2), 113-126.

Evans, J., & Lunt, I. (2002). Inclusive education: are there limits? European Journal of Special Needs Education, 17(1), 1-14.

Ferguson, D. L. (2008). International trends in inclusive education: the continuing challenge to teach each one and everyone. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 23(2), 109-120.

Gargiulo, R. M. (2012). Special education in contemporary society: an introduction to exceptionality (4th ed.). California: SAGE.

Gibb, K., Tunbridge, D., Chua, A., & Frederickson, N. (2007). Pathways to inclusion: moving from special school to mainstream. Educational Psychology in Practice, 23(2), 109-127.

Haegele, J. A., & Hodge, S. (2016). Disability discourse: overview and critiques of the medical and social models. Quest, 68(2), 193-206.

Hallahan, D. P., & Kauffman, J. M. (1997). Exceptional learners: introduction to special education. USA: Allyn & Bacon.

Heward, W. L. (1996). Exceptional Learners: an Introduction (5th ed.). Ohio: Prentice Hall.

Howes, A., Booth, T., Dyson, A., & Frankham, J. (2005). Teacher learning and the development of inclusive practices and policies: framing and context. Research Papers in Education, 20(2), 133-148.

Karakoski, J., & Ström, K. (2005). Special needs education in Tanzania: a fact- finding mission final report. Finnish National Board of Education. Retrieved from https://www.google.hu/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjPhNLyl4HYAhXHo6QKHbs8CYsQFggmMAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fformin.finland.fi%2FPublic%2Fdownload.aspx%3FID%3D14227%26GUID%3D%257B536C2E76-0615-4771-A230-6066422D44EE%257D&usg=AOvVaw1QhPa2aqizIZoyp1ZCAnqR.

Kisanji, J. (1995). Interface between culture and disability in the Tanzanian context: Part I. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 42(2), 93-108.

Mkonongwa, L. M. (2014, June). Conception and perceptions about inclusive education in Tanzania: Is it well understood and implemented? Paper presented in the TEN/MET Quality Education Conference, June 18-19, 2014.

Mushi, P. A. K. (2011). History and development of education in Tanzania. Dar es Salaam: Dar es Salaam University Press.

Ngata, A. G. (2011). Challenges of teaching pupils with intellectual disability in inclusive primary schools in Tanzania: the case of Temeke District, Dar es Salaam. Master’s Thesis. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: University of Dar es Salaam. Retrieved from

Oliver, M. (2013). The social model of disability: thirty years on. Disability & Society, 28(7), 1024-1026.

Peters, S. J. (2004). Inclusive education: An EFA strategy for all children. Michigan: College Press.

Possi, M. K. (1986). The Effects of integration on blind pupils’ academic and social performance in primary schools in Tanzania (Unpublished Master’s Thesis). University of Dar es Salaam.

Possi, M. K. (2009, July). The status of special needs and inclusive education in Tanzania. Paper presented at the First Annual General Meeting of the Tanzania Psychological Association.

Read, J., & Walmsley, J. (2006). Historical perspectives on special education, 1890–1970. Disability & Society, 21(5), 455-469.

Reber, A. S. (1995). Penguin dictionary of psychology. Bucks: Hazel Watson and Viney.

Reynolds, C. R., & Fletcher-Janzen, E. (Eds.). (2002). Concise encyclopedia of special education: a reference for the education of the handicapped and other exceptional children and adults (2nd ed.). USA: Wiley & Sons.

Rodriguez, C. C., & Garro-Gila, N. (2015). Inclusion and integration on special education. Social and Behavioral Sciences, 191, 1323-1327.

Stone-MacDonald, A. (2012). Cultural beliefs about disability in practice: experiences at a special school in Tanzania. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 59(4), 393-407.

Tarkala, M., & Aunio, P. (2005). Exploring a new inclusive model in Finnish early childhood special education: a 3 year follow up. Education Quarterly, 9(1), 39-54.

Thomazet, S. (2009). From integration to inclusive education: does changing the terms improve practice? International Journal of Inclusive Education, 13(6), 553-563.

Tungaraza, F. D. (1994). The development and history of special education in Tanzania. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 41(3), 213-222.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. (1994). The Salamanca statement and framework for action on special needs education. UNESCO: Paris.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. (2005). Guidelines for inclusion: ensuring access to education for all. UNESCO: Paris.

United Nations. (2007). Convention of the rights of persons with disabilities. UN: New York.

United Republic of Tanzania. (1995). Education and training policy. Ministry of Education and Culture.

United Republic of Tanzania. (2004). National policy on disability. Ministry of Labour, Youth Development and Sports.

United Republic of Tanzania. (2016). National basic education statistics in Tanzania (BEST) 2012 - 2016. Ministry of Education and Vocational Training.



► Journal Metrics

  • 8% acceptance rate
  • 3.4 (2023) CiteScore (Scopus)
  • Q2 (2023) CiteScore Best Quartile
  • 0.42 (2023) Scimago Journal & Country Rank (SJR)

EDUPIJ Statistics from Scopus

CiteScore: 3.4, view Scopus page

SCImago Journal & Country Rank

► Educational Process: International Journal is member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). 

► New issue coming soon! (Volume 13 Issue 3, 2024)